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On Being Essential

For my entire time associated with CCRR, I’ve either raised questions about or been asked about the work we do, about why we even exist. Unlike so many other nonprofits, we don’t have a cadre of volunteers helping to distribute something or provide similar, direct services to people in need. Yet I’ve always seen our work and our mission as vital to the very fabric of our community. Never has that been more evident than during this pandemic.

Since the beginning of March, CCRR has supported Rockland’s child care providers and families through this extraordinarily confusing and stressful time. At the outset, Governor Cuomo declared child care providers essential – something we here at CCRR have known and for which we have advocated since we were founded in 1974.

We are proud to have worked so closely with Rockland BOCES, our school districts, the Rockland YMCA, and many others to develop a plan to provide school-age child care for essential workers. The Governor immediately recognized that families need access to child care so they can go to work. While sites are currently open at West Haverstraw Elementary and Upper Nyack Elementary, other locations can open based on need. And we appreciate those early childhood providers who have kept slots available for essential workers with children under age five.

Currently, approximately 30% of Rockland’s child care programs are open. With social distancing in mind, they are working with fewer children yet still giving stability, comfort, and peace of mind to families and the children in their care.

Our staff is taking advantage of professional development opportunities to share their knowledge and best practices with providers, and we are working with PreK sites to ensure continuity of learning - because we always strive to improve the quality of early care and learning.

CCRR staff members continually reach out to child care providers, whether their programs are open or closed, to ask how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, what they need. Because without child care, what? How many would not, could not work?

March 2020 has been different, but not. This is what we do under normal circumstances - this is our work at its core, essential, vital, to every corner of Rockland, the region, the state. In an emergency, during this pandemic, ever more so.